Fascination with the Paranormal

ESP Cards

ESP Cards

I’m fascinated with the paranormal. As a kid, I had a set of ESP cards. My brother would concentrate on one of the cards, and I would try to guess which one it was. I wanted so badly to be able to read minds!

I’ve never told anyone this, but I remember that in elementary school I wondered whether I might be one of the fortunate, gifted few who could look into a crystal ball and see the future. (Yes, I was that gullible.)

In recent years, my “what’s out there?” streak turned its attention to UFOs. I read many books about experiences ranging from sightings to abductions. One of the most convincing accounts concerned sightings by many people in Mexico City during a solar eclipse on July 11, 1991. They reported a round object in the sky that darted to and fro at amazing speed and was able to make sharp turns while going very fast. How could so many people be making this up?

As I said, I tend to be gullible. Naturally, I thought these people really did see UFOs. So imagine my disappointment when I read this comment on time.com

…it’s hard not to wonder whether some of these people were just seeing spots because they weren’t wearing their eclipse safety glasses.

As soon as I read that, I realized just how plausible it was. It would account for everything. Now, maybe there really were UFOs over Mexico City in July of 1991 or maybe there weren’t. But I was properly humbled by the realization that I had not even looked for so obvious an explanation as people not wearing their eclipse safety glasses. As usual, I was much too eager to believe.

And that’s the problem with all paranormal phenomena. We’re much too eager to believe and we abandon skepticism much too early.

Worse, we make a less-than-thorough attempt at testing or debunking our cherished beliefs and — surprise! — decide that we have been right all along. We succeed only in inoculating ourselves to genuine critical thinking. We think we’ve already given the other side a fair shake and we only end up deeper in our original rut.

Whatever our favorite paranormal/supernatural obsession may be, experience shows that skepticism is usually the best stance.

But about those videos of UFOs over Mexico City…

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